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I've just updated my wife's 3GS to iOS 5.1 from iOS 4. The restore seem to only restore the messages/photo roll and some other settings. I don't see most of the apps but the most important part is the contacts are missing. This is why I'm looking for the iPhone backup that iTunes creates before updating the software.

I currently have tried the following:

  1. Turn off iCloud
  2. Turn on then off iCloud
  3. Adding a Contact
  4. Restoring from the last backup file(without timestamp)
  5. Reset to Factory defaults and restoring
  6. Copying from Sim (Has some older contacts, not the recent ones)
  7. Using iBackupBot to browse the backups (only iOS5 backups seem to be there)

Here are some other valid points: 1. The iPhone isn't regularly synced 2. I created a backup before updating the OS I can't find it anywhere now 3. There's no contacts on the Mac's Address Book. 4. There is only Sim contacts in the iCloud sync 5. iBackupBot shows me there are no other contacts other than the Sim ones that got synced to iCloud 6. There are existing SMS-es without Contact Names 7. I can try to correlate the SMSes with names but it will not give me the full contact list.

Since the Messages are restored, the contacts must be kept somewhere can anyone help me? I'm pretty sure I just need to find the backup that was created for the Update and somehow grab all the contacts maybe using ibackupbot.

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If you are on WinXP -

C:\Documents and Settings/<user>\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

If you are on WinVista/Win7 -

C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

If you are on MacOS -

~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

With the above path, if you still can not find the iPhone backup location, you may try an application called "iPhone Backup Unlocker", it will help you recover lost backup for your iPhone.

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Does the app search the entire file system for a moved folder or just look in the default locations? – bmike Dec 24 '12 at 14:04

The backup location is here:

~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

That's the Library within your home directory.

In Lion it's hidden, so from Finder choose "Go To Folder" from the Go menu to get there.

Not sure you'll find what you're looking for though. If you had it backed up to iCloud I would log into iCloud ( to see if the info is there.

Do you know if you were backing up to iCloud before as well, or backing up on the computer?

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Exactly because I have found myself in situations like this, I keep a backup of my iPhone contacts on my PC via Windows Contacts. In the future you can copy iPhone contacts to your PC with third party apps or via iTunes sync.

The location of your iPhone backup files made by iTunes is as follows:

If you are on WinXP - C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

If you are on WinVista/Win7 - C:\Users\user\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

If you are on MacOS - ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

If you are trying to access your iPhone backup files with a third-party application, there are lots such of apps I believe one of them was called iPhone Browser.

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